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Premarket: Second thoughts on oil Add to ...

Global stock market indexes were down on Friday, as a rebound in the price of oil renewed concerns about inflation and slowing economic growth.

North American stock index futures were lower with about an hour before markets open, suggesting indexes will fall at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average fell 66 points, to 11,978 - potentially putting the index below the 12,000-mark. Futures for broader S&P 500 fell 9 points, to 1332.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.9 per cent and Germany's DAX index fell 1.4 per cent in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 per cent.

Crude oil bounced higher following Thursday's big sell-off, rising to $134.16 (U.S.) a barrel, up $2.23. The latest theory is that, yes fuel prices are on the rise in China but demand is unlikely to be affected because there is still so much pent-up demand for products as wealth grows. As well, it is now more economical for refiners to boost production, which could actually boost demand. Hey, somebody's buying the theory: global energy stocks BP PLC and Total SA were up in Europe.

In Canada, investors will put Mark Carney's words into action, a day after the governor of the Bank of Canada defended his decision to keep interest rates steady even as many economists had been expecting a rate cut to fend off slowing economic growth. In a speech on Thursday evening, Mr. Carney said the central bank needs to keep a "relentless focus on inflation."

"Amid some apparent receding of downside risks posed by the U.S. economy and local credit conditions, Carney & Co. opted to pause, despite signalling a prior intention to ease further," said Michael Gregory, senior economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns. "Whether the next move from the Bank is a rate cut or a rate hike, the policy path appears to lie along the intertwined destinies of commodity prices and the Canadian dollar."

Of course, Friday is also the day when the Supreme Court of Canada hands down its decision on the appeal by BCE Inc., which will either give BCE's $35-billion takeover new life or put a stake through it. The decision will not arrive until 4:30 p.m. (ET), though, which means that big trading activity - and there will be some - won't arrive until Monday. Friday trading in BCE shares is all about betting on the outcome.

 

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